Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 28, 2014

The Mysteries of Nili Fossae
The Mysteries of Nili Fossae

Credits: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University (ASU) - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

In this extremely inspiring VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter on June, 23rd, 2002, and during its 2.319th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see a relatively small portion of the Floor of the Martian Region known as Nili Fossae. Nili Fossae is a group of large, concentric Grabens that have been FIRST eroded and THEN partly filled in by Sediments and Clay-rich Ejecta from a nearby giant Impact Crater: Isidis Basin

Nili Fossae is located at approximately 22° North Latitude and 75°East Longitude; it has an elevation of about (minus) 0,6 Km (such as about − 0,3726 miles). Nili Fossae was on the list of potential Landing Sites of the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover and Science Laboratory, but was dropped (-----> eliminated) before the final four sites were determined. A large exposure (---> Material located on the Surface) of the Water-related Mineral known as Olivine is prsent in Nili Fossae and, during the month of December of the AD 2008, the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found that the Rocks located at Nili Fossae contained Carbonate Minerals: a Geologically more than significant discovery. Other interesting Minerals found in the Region by the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter were Aluminum Smectite, Iron/Magnesium Smectite, Hydrated Silica, several Kaolinite Group Minerals, and Iron Oxides.

Furthermore, NASA Scientists discovered that Nili Fossae is the source of Plumes of Methane, raising the intriguing question of whether this Plumes might originate from Biological Sources. Several Researchers, in July 2010, suggested that the Carbonate-bearing Rocks found in the Nili Fossae Region are made up of Hydrothermally altered Ultramafic Rocks. Consequently, and therefore, some local and higly significant Hydrothermal Activity must have provided (or must STILL provide!) sufficient energy for the development of Biological Activity - and some (perhaps "exotic", who knows...) Evidence of (even now) living Indigenous Organisms could have been preserved. Last, but not least, the Great Nili Fossae Trough is thought to have resulted from the same Impact Event which formed, as we wrote herebefore, the nearby gigantic Isidis Basin

Latitude (centered): 21,9281° North
Longitude (centered): 79,3321° East
Instrument: VIS

This image (which is an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter false colors and Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18993) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, contrast enhanced and sharpened, Gamma corrected and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter and then looked down, towards the Surface of Mars), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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